New Delhi: By-elections in Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar Lok Sabha seat turned bloody on Sunday after large-scale clashes between protesters and security forces led to the death of eight people and injured more than 100 security personnel.
The prestigious seat, from where Jammu and Kashmir's former chief minister Farooq Abdullah is contesting, also recorded an abysmally low voter turnout of 6.5%.
J & K Chief Electoral Officer Shantanu told journalists that he expected repoll to be ordered on somewhere between 50 and 100 booths or maybe more, adding that Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in south Kashmir, where bypoll is scheduled for April 12, would pose a "bigger challenge".
In Kashmir, sources told CNN-News18 that security forces fired at protesters who were trying to disrupt voting in at least eight booths across the Valley. At several other booths, protesters were pushed back without resorting to firing.
At least six polling booths were abandoned by security forces and polling staff due to hostile environment. The violence led to an abysmally low voter turnout of 3.12 percent till 11 am.
Reacting to reports of violence, National Conference leader and former CM Omar Abdullah said, “People want to go and vote but the environment is such that people are not stepping out.”
“The State has failed to provide conducive atmosphere for voting. Mehbooba Mufti is responsible for this. There is mismanagement in government,” he added.
Violence Mars Madhya Pradesh Bypolls
Meanwhile, in Madhya Pradesh, stone pelting and firing, along with alleged booth capturing, were reported in Ater Assembly seat in Bhind district. Congress alleged that its candidate was attacked by the BJP workers and gunshots were fired at him. The Election Commission officials, however, said there was a dispute between the agents of the Congress and the BJP.
State Congress chief Arun Yadav, at a press conference, alleged that, "Seeing its imminent defeat, the BJP has been desperately trying to capture booths."
"The BJP workers attacked the Congress candidate from Ater, Hemant Katare. Gunshots were fired at him at a booth in Sankri village. The vehicles of mediapersons were also damaged," he claimed.
Yadav also alleged that the BJP was using the administration to affect the electoral process, saying that at least 40 booth agents were detained by the administration. Nearly 35 of them were released after Congress complained to the Election Commission, he said.
The Election Commission's state PRO denied the allegation and said the violence was due to a dispute between agents at Sankri booth in Ater constituency. "There was a dispute between agents of the Congress and the BJP. The district Collector and Superintendent of Police informed that Congress candidate reached at Sankri booth of the constituency. This created the dispute," the PRO said.
"Police fired in the air to control the situation," he added.
(With inputs from PTI & Mufti Islah in Srinagar)